FOOLISH

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Ryan Bruce/ The Gathering          The Fools & The Foolish Series (# 2 of 2)                     To Hear this message and others go to THEGATHERINGHG.COM

We discussed last week how the fool says in their heart that their is no God… In this respect the Christian is no fool; however, he can certainly choose to act foolishly.

THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE A “FOOL” TO THE WORLD                                                          1 Corinthians 3: 18-19,  1 Corinthians 1: 23-25,  Proverbs 11: 2

The long journey of faith begins with the very difficult task…of humility.  Humility is something that goes against every part of our human nature!  Pride is what the world teaches, practices, and strives to build up.  However, the Christian must recognize that at the introduction of repentance is humility.  Only with humility is salvation attainable.

1 Corinthians 3: 18-19 states that we must do away with whatever wisdom we gained from the world and become foolish (in the standards of this world) to have true wisdom (that comes from God).  The wisdom of God is not what your neighborhood taught you, it is not what your parents taught you, It doesn’t come from a textbook or self-help magazines.  True wisdom only comes from the knowledge of God!  And… I hate to break it to you, but the world thinks that is plain stupid.

Christians should not be ashamed or brought down by the fools of the world (Those who do not believe in God). We should stand for truth!  Far too often believers shamefully cower from the bullies of the world.  We must recognize our pride is not in the applause of men but in the master we claim to worship!  1 Corinthians 1 : 23-25, We serve a mighty God who’s wisdom is so beyond the world’s view that they fail to understand it!

The Christian forfeits true wisdom when he holds onto his pride over his faith.     Proverbs 11: 2

THE FOOLISH CHRISTIAN  Matthew 7: 24-27,  Galatians 6: 7-10

Jesus was clear on the Christian response to the truth of the word in Matthew 7: 24-27.  He mentions a few key Words in this passage concerning a “wise man”:

The first word to take note of is “hears.”  The wise man first hears the word!  As a wise believer in Christ you must hear and read the words of wisdom before anything else.

The second word to take note of is “acts” or “practices”.  Only a fool hears wisdom and does not follow through with action!  If I guaranteed you an easy job with great pay and benefits and you were a no show, the world would call you foolish.  Christians, if you hear wisdom and truth and don’t apply it, you are a foolish Christian!

Notice that the foolish man hears but does not act and the result is destruction.  How sad it is to see Christians fall into destruction because of their lack of action.  The believer must understand that hearing without action is a dead faith!  Many belittle, even mock, the wisdom of God as Christians. They have integrated human, worldly wisdom into their faith and their house (life) will fall when the storms (hard times) come.

Galatians 6: 7-9 warns us concerning mocking Gods’ truth.  Many “Christians” have moved from the things of God.  They claim faith, yet live for their own flesh.  They hear and do not practice truth and have chosen the folly of the world to guide them.  God will not be mocked, we will reap what we sow!

The sad stories of wavering Christians are always the same.  They call themselves Christians and don’t live according to the truth they profess.  Storms (trials) they bring on themselves wreck their faith and they ask why? We will reap what we sow church!

DO NOT LOOSE HEART AND STAND FIRM Galatians 6: 9-10,  Romans 1: 16-17

Christians,  let us not be ashamed of the gospel!  We cannot worry about the approval of men or concern ourselves with the world’s foolishness.  We must be consumed by the wisdom of God.  We must hear it and act on it.  Let our hearts desire be to deliver the truth and wisdom of God to a lost world of fools.   Let the mockers mock as the Christian takes heart in their midst.

FOOLS

SadClown Pastor Barry/ The Gathering       To Hear this message go to THEGATHERINGHG.COM

FOOLS Psalm 14:1-5, Romans 1:18-32, Romans 3:10-24

God’s word tells us that “the fool says in his heart “there is no God”.  The Apostle Paul clarified this statement in Romans 1:18-20.  Those that say there is no God literally have denied what God has made obvious through his creation.  His creation is the very proof of his existence!

To believe that the perfect order of creation has come from a cataclysmic explosion (“Big Bang” Theory) of chance is insulting to our creator! How can such perfect order come from absolute disorder? Imagine if a watch washed up on the shore of some uncharted island and the finder of that watch proclaimed that it had come from some cosmic event of chance. The fact that it is so intricately made proves that it has an intelligent creator.  “Who but a fool could believe otherwise”,  says  God.

The psalmist proclaims that such a fool is corrupt and their deeds are vile. “There is no one who does good”.   As the Lord looks down from heaven on “all mankind” (unbelieving fools and believers alike) he sees that there are none with enough understanding to seek God (the    Creator).  All have become corrupt and no one does good…”not even one!”  

What is “good” one might ask?  “Good” is whatever a creator of such a thing desires.  If you for instance were to create a cleaning machine then “clean” would be that good result that you desired.  If that cleaning machine failed to clean then it would be no good. As the creator you would have every right to destroy it and recreate another model.  God created mankind to have a relationship with him.  Fools refuse to believe he exists and even believers refuse to live righteously (righteous:  in line with God’s intended purpose) as he requires. God, therefore, has the right to destroy us and recreate another model…but instead he has chosen to offer a remedy to our unrighteousness through Christ.  

Unbelief and rebellion is sin and it is that sin which “devours” God’s creation and overwhelms mankind with dread.  We are our own worse enemy!  If God is only present in the company of the righteous then we are all in trouble, but thanks be to God that Jesus paid for our sin: 

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

The Apostle Paul clearly states that man has no excuse not to believe in God.  He also sums up the results of mankind sinning against Him:  Mankind’s thinking has become futile and our hearts have been darkened.  Our worldly wisdom is foolishness and we have become fools.  We have exchanged a relationship with the almighty creator God for sinful desires that are devouring our people and our planet.  We are worshiping created things rather than our creator. We are degrading our bodies and exchanging truth for lies.  We are caught up in shameful lusts and are suffering the penalty for such things.  Our minds are depraved and we are filled with unrighteousness.  We invent new ways of doing evil and we encourage others, even our children, to do the same.

Our condemnation is justified “all have turned away”, there is “no fear of God” and “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law (i.e. keeping God’s desired “good”). For “all have sinned”,  but thanks be to God that Jesus paid for our sin.  Now Fools and the foolish must turn to him on faith to be forgiven:

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them”. Romans 4:7-8

FOOLISHNESS 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Only a fool would forfeit the gift of salvation from the creator of the universe; yet there are many such fools who are perishing.  They are also not content in their folly and so they spread their God hate and sin to others.  Roughly 70 percent of Christian college students going off to college end up leaving their faith.  This is caused by both secular pressure from students and teaching professors as well as a disengagement from a meaningful church or   fellowship group.  The faith of our children is at high risk too. Biblical morals and ethics are being purposely chipped away through new school teaching curricula and even kids cartoons and shows.  The Disney animated series Star Vs. The Forces of Evil broke new ground last year after featuring the first ever same sex kiss (“Just Friends”: Season 2,   episode 39) and then featured Disney’s first ever boy princess (Princess Turdina: Season 3, episode 9) with even a more stated teaching. Disney’s Andi Mack tween series also featured 13-year-old Cyrus Goodman, (one of the main characters) discovering his homosexuality in a second season one-hour premiere episode. We can expect to see more and more such godlessness from a world turning away from Jesus, but what will you do as a believer?

The message of the cross is foolishness to fools but it is the power of God for those of us who are saved by faith. The “spiritual” want to see signs from heaven while the “educated” want their brand of wisdom (1 Cor. 1:22) but we are to preach Christ crucified! 

We who are now Christians have all been fools before, but what are we now?  Do we walk in the newness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) as the reconcilers that we are meant to be?

God is our creator and we have no excuse to doubt such a thing.  He has every right to judge our unbelief, rebellion and sin, but in his love he has chosen grace and mercy for us instead.  Jesus has paid the price for our sin—we only need to believe.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16  

Now let us, therefore,  stand as “Fools for Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:10a) in this circus of errors that we call earth.  May we live and proclaim God’s reconciliation for those who will come to faith and may we not waver in ours. Amen

RISEN (Naked Runner/ Conclusion #27)

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Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church (Gospel of Mark/ Naked Runner Series #27 End) Note: to hear this series and others go to THEGATHERINGHG.COM

Three Women?

Mark 16:1-8, Matthew 28:1-10, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18 

Mark tells us that three women, 1.) Mary Magdalene, 2.) Mary, the mother of James and  3.) Salome, brought spices to anoint Jesus body (just after sunrise on the first day of the week).   They arrive at the tomb and see the stone rolled away and meet a young man in a white robe. The women fled from that place “trembling and bewildered” and “said nothing to anyone.”

Matthew tells us that only the two Mary’s went to look at the tomb (he leaves out Salome). He also tells of an earthquake and how an angel rolled away the stone. Matthew tells us that the women were afraid but filled with joy and upon running to tell the disciples they ran into Jesus and they fell at his feet and worshiped him.

Luke gives the same story but there are more women (1.) Mary Magdalene, 2.) Joanna, 3.)  Mary the mother of James, “and the  4+.) others.”  They are greeted by “two men in robes that gleamed like lightning”. He also says the women came back from the tomb and told the eleven and others. Luke adds that the disciples did not believe them because “their words seemed like nonsense.”  Peter; however ran to the tomb and saw the strips of linen laying by themselves.

John mentions only Mary Magdalene going to the tomb on the first day of the week while it was still dark.  After seeing the stone rolled away she came running to Simon Peter and John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) and told them that someone had taken the Lord out of the tomb and she didn’t know where they had taken him. John says that Peter and he ran to the tomb, went into it and believed.  Then they returned to the place where they were staying.  Mary   remained outside crying and then looked into the tomb and saw two “Angels in white” who asked her why she was crying.  Then she turned and saw Jesus.  John tells us that Mary thought that Jesus was the gardener until he called her name. She cried out and held him but he ask her to let go and tell the others.  Mary then went and told the disciples what happened.

Nonsense  

A legal expert would say that four stories perfectly matched would be a    conspiracy.  Believe it or not these gospel accounts actually do fit together:  

John and Peter were together and witnessed Mary Magdalene leaving to go to the tomb before daylight.  Not being gentlemen they allowed Mary to go alone.  On the way to the tomb, Mary Magdalene met the other Mary, as Matthew (another fine gentleman) witnessed. They in turn joined Salome and the other women mentioned in the gospel accounts.  They all went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body properly according to burial customs.  None knew how they would remove the stone since no men went along to help.

When the women arrived they saw the stone rolled away.  Mary Magdalene flipped out and ran off to tell John and Peter that someone had moved the body; meanwhile, the other women entered the tomb and saw two angels yet only one spoke and told them to go tell the disciples that Jesus had risen.  Mary, the mother of James and Salome were bewildered and fled, saying nothing to anyone because they were afraid. Other women were filled with joy and fled to tell the disciples as they were told.  Salome likely ran off with the band of others while Mary, the mother of James looked for the lost Mary Magdalene.

The women were running away while John, Peter and Mary Magdalene (trailing behind) ran towards the tomb.  Peter went in first, then John —while Mary stayed outside crying.  In their excitement, John and Peter ran out of the tomb leaving Mary in the dust!  Finally, Mary got up the nerve to look into the tomb and saw the two angels and then Jesus!  At this time Mary, the Mother of James, also saw Jesus and they both fell down to worship him as Matthew said.  When all the women finally came together speaking excitedly to the eleven nine of them did not believe because “their words seemed like nonsense”—but Peter and John had seen the stone rolled away and the linen strips of cloth.

The Conspiracy Matthew 28:11-15

The conspiracy was not in what the eyewitnesses and the gospel writers wrote but in what the guards reported. Any guard who left his watch would have be mercilessly tortured and killed by the Romans, but these guards were exonerated and paid to keep quiet.

Conclusion and Beginning Mark 16:9-20, John 14:27, Hebrews 12:1

The earliest and most reliable manuscripts of the Bible do not include verses 9-20 in Mark; however, the other gospels testify to the events listed:  John’s account of Mary Magdalene’s deliverance from seven demons (Luke 8:2) and her encounter with Jesus (John 20:1-18), Luke’s account that the disciples didn’t believe (Luke 24:9-11), Jesus appearance on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-16), Jesus appearance to the eleven (Luke 24:36-37), The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), The declaration of salvation and condemnation (John 3:18), Accompanying signs of those who believe: Drive out demons (Acts 16:18), Speak in new tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-11),  Unaffected by poison (Luke 10:19), The sick will be healed (James 5:15), Jesus’ Ascension (Luke 24:50-51), Jesus at the right hand of God (Ephesians 1:20-21), The disciples preaching everywhere in power (Acts 1:8), with signs (John 14:11-12). It is likely that these verses were added later by some overzealous scribe to make for a more conclusive ending.  I am not advocating such a deed, in fact Revelation 22:18-19 forbids such additions or subtractions from scriptures, but that remains an issue between the scribe and God.  The additional verses were included in the Cannon of scripture (regarded as authoritative by the early church).  The scribe probably didn’t like Mark’s ending:”They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” Verse 20 is a much better ending: “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”   

Where that “naked runner” (“Mark” Mark 14:51-52) concludes we must begin our proclamation of that same gospel.  Jesus said “fear not!” Let us strip off all that holds us back from that task and run the race before us:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

Death Rising (Naked Runner #26)

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Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church         The Gospel of Mark (Naked Runner Series #26)

Darkness Mark 15:33, Matthew 27:45

Mark, Matthew and Luke all write that while Jesus was on the cross darkness covered the land.  This was a supernatural darkness that God provided to intensify his sorrow and    displeasure with mankind.  Despite the bad translation of The New American Bible (of Luke 23:45) it was not a “solar eclipse” that darkened the land.  Passover is always celebrated during a full moon in spring, but a new moon is needed for a solar eclipse to occur, making it the wrong phase of the moon.  A solar eclipse also only darkens the land for a few minutes.  The gospel accounts say that darkness covered the land for three hours!

Scripture tells us that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  It was God’s Spirit that created the earth’s first light (Genesis 1:1-3) and the promise of Heaven is that God’s will be its forever light (Revelation 21:23) while Hell is partially described as outer darkness (2 Peter 2:17).  Is there any doubt that this darkness illustrated both God’s sorrow and displeasure with man?

Last Words Mark 15:34-37, Matthew 27:46-50, Psalm 22:1

The Gospel of both Mark and Matthew lead us to believe that the last prophetic words of Christ were “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  They also agree that people gathered at the cross incorrectly thought they heard Jesus call on the prophet Elijah.  Of course he did not. The crowd was at a distance from the cross so they could not hear Jesus clearly. Thus when Jesus said “Eloi” (as Mark correctly spells the Aramaic word in his gospel) they heard “Eli” (as Matthew spells it in Hebrew in his gospel) which they interpreted as “Elias” (=Elijah).   Matthew 16:14 and Matthew 17:10 also show us that it was a common expectation during Jesus’ time that Elijah would return at the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5). In Matthew 11:14 Jesus said that John the Baptist was who the prophet Malachi referred to (the reference being to John’s characteristics and not the actual person of Elijah, thus fulfilling the prophecy).  

The “why have you forsaken me” phrase was not so much a question to God but the chilling exclamation that Jesus had become the scapegoat for all the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Jesus’ last phrase was one of resolve: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) which he said after he concluded “It is finished” (John 19:30). The totality of the gospel accounts below show all the words that Jesus spoke on the cross in their likely chronology:

The Last Seven Phrases of Jesus on the cross: 

1.) “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

2.) “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 (to the thief)

3.) “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple: “Here is your mother.” John 19:26-27 (introducing Mary to John: From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.)

4.) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34

5.) “I am thirsty.” John 19:28

6.) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

7.) Jesus called with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46 

Of the last sayings of Christ on the cross, none is more important or more poignant than, “It is finished.” Found only in the Gospel of John, the Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai (tet-el-es-tye,)  an accounting term that means “paid in full.” When Jesus uttered those words, He was declaring our debt for sin was “paid in full” by him. “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” “To the end” in the Greek text is eis telos, meaning, literally, that He loved us to perfection.    (John 13:1b)

Torn, Shaken, Split and Raised! Mark 15:38-39, Matthew 27:51-54

The curtain (veil) of the Temple represented the separation of a Holy God from sinful man( Isaiah 59:2).  Only the fully consecrated high priest could go beyond that curtain once a year to offer a blood sacrifice to God on behalf of his people. That curtain was 30 feet high and upon the death of Jesus it was supernaturally torn from top to bottom exposing what was called the most holy place.  In essence God was saying to man “We are no longer separated by your sin!” 

Matthew’s gospel goes beyond the torn curtain and explains why the guard exclaimed “surely this man was the son of God!”  The earth shook, rocks split, and tombs broke open in that earthquake.  (After Jesus’ resurrection the bodies “of many holy people” in those tombs were raised to life and appeared to many people. Mark 15:52b-53)  

Death Rising Mark 15:40-47, John 19:38-42, Philippians 2:1-11

Jesus died.  John tells us that the soldiers thrust a spear into his side, but as the scriptures prophesied, “Not one of his bones were broken” (John 19:32-37).  Jesus died but his death would bring a great rising.  It began with the proclamation of the centurion who killed him…”Surely this man was the son of God!”  Then, the women who watched from a distance would prepare their spices and later proclaim him raised! (Matthew 28:8) Joseph of Armathea, would stand and approach even Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body, unafraid of what Rome might do to him. John’s gospel tells us that even Nicodemus, the Pharisee who once hid in the darkness of night to talk to Jesus, rose up as a believer and helped Joseph     entomb the body of Christ.  Jesus death brought believers to life even before his resurrection. Amazing love does that.  In reflection of this love what rises up in you?